Helensburgh Community Council Planning Group

Helensburgh Community Council is a statutory consultee on all planning applications lodged with Argyll & Bute Council for the town. In the main, these are assessed by its Planning Group to determine if they accord both with the Council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) and local resident views.

Helensburgh is perhaps Scotland’s most beautiful small town so the Community Council pays particular attention to the design quality of applications. These are assessed objectively using the Community Council’s Helensburgh Design Statement (unique to Scotland). Based on LDP planning policies the Statement asks the central question: do applications “conserve, sustain and enhance” the legacy of the many existing fine buildings in the town?         

The Design Statement identifies Six Characteristics of Good Building Design as they apply to Helensburgh :

  • Distinctiveness
  • Creativity
  • Integration with Local Landscape
  • Variety
  • Open Space
  • Sustainability

To ensure objectivity and consistency the design quality of applications is assessed against these Six Characteristics. It rates each one on a scale of 1-4 showing Strengths as well as Areas for Improvement leading to an overall “% score”. Above 75% a design is assessed as “Excellent” while a design below 25% is seen as “Poor”.

For major planning applications, assessments are carried out by the Community Council’s own "architecture & design helensburgh" (a&dh), which is again unique to Scotland. It includes professional architects and planners alongside Community Councillors.

As well as assessments against the Design Statement they are also made against the 14 questions, rated 1-7, of the widely recognised Place Standard Tool. This evaluates the quality of a place rather than an individual building. A place can be well established, is undergoing change or one still being planned. 

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